- Varicose veins develop when the valves facilitating blood flow become weak or damaged.
- When blood pools in the veins, they may swell and bulge out from underneath the skin, which make them a lot more noticeable.
- Varicose veins can be treated medically, but there are also several home treatments that can help alleviate symptoms.
What are varicose veins?
The small valves in a person’s veins are usually responsible for stopping blood from flowing backward. So when these valves become weak or damaged, blood can pool in the veins, which can lead to swelling.
Varicose veins usually appear swollen, enlarged, and twisted. They can be dark blue or purple in color, and often bulge out from underneath the skin, which make them a lot more noticeable.
Varicose veins can be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling of the feet and ankles, heaviness in the legs, muscle cramps, burning or throbbing sensation in the legs, or dry and itchy skin over the varicose vein.
The condition affects around 20 percent of adults.
While there are a number of medical treatments, there are also treatments you can do at home to help reduce the appearance and pain of varicose veins.
Ten Ways to Treat and Prevent Varicose Veins
A gentle massage around the affected areas can help promote blood flow. You can also use a moisturizer or gentle massage oils for optimal effects.
Make sure to avoid pressing directly on the veins, however, to prevent damaging fragile tissues.
2. Compression stockings
Compression stockings work by applying pressure to the legs, aiding the muscles and veins to move blood upward to the heart.
Wearing knee-high compression stockings with a pressure of 18 to 21 mmHg for one week helps reduce pain and aching, according to a 2018 study.
3. Plant extracts
Make sure to dilute plant extracts and essential oils in carrier oils before applying topically or using in a diffuser for aromatherapy.
4. Grape seed extract
According to the National Institute of Health, orally consuming grape seed extract helps reduce swelling in the lower legs as well as other symptoms.
Avoid taking grape seed extract if you are also taking blood-thinning medication, however, since the combination may increase the risk of bleeding.
Flavonoids help improve blood circulation, reduce blood pressure in the arteries, and relax blood vessels — which may help shrink varicose veins.
Foods rich in flavonoids include:
- vegetables, particularly onions, bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach
- citrus fruits, apples, blueberries, cherries, and grapes
6. Improved diet
Minimize water retention by avoiding salty foods. Switch to potassium-rich foods such as leafy vegetables, almonds, pistachios, salmon, tuna, lentils, and potatoes.
To prevent constipation — straining that can aggravate damaged valves — consume fiber-rich foods such as whole-grain foods, nuts, and seeds.
Excess weight increases the risk of varicose veins, so weight loss can reduce swelling, discomfort, and pressure on the veins.
7. Regular exercise
Regular physical activity promotes blood circulation and lowers blood pressure.
Try low-impact exercises that target the calf muscles without excessive strain, such as yoga, walking, cycling, or swimming.
8. Keep moving
Avoid prolonged sitting or sitting with crossed legs, since this can restrict blood flow.
If your work entails long periods of sitting, set an hourly alarm to get up and move around or at least change your position.
9. Keep the legs elevated
If you know that you’ll be sitting down for a long time, try to keep your legs elevated at about the same height as the heart or above to promote good circulation.
This lets gravity help the blood flow smoothly back to the heart, reducing pressure from the leg veins.
10. Choose non-restricting clothing
Tight-fitting clothes, such as skinny jeans, can restrict blood flow.
Improve your circulation by wearing loose-fitting clothes for your lower body. You may also switch to flat shoes instead of high heels.
Source: Medical News Today